CASTLE IN Till, SEA. by Michelle Lorraine. translated by Charlotte Haldane (Harl ill Press. 10s. 6d.). THE French have thc art of writing about children without sentiment or whimsy. "Castle in the Sea " is a lovely story. told with simplicity and depth of feeling. It is • the story of Catherine who, along with Pierrot and Louis, Pepe. Henri and little Jacques. lived, unknown to her parents in a secret. makebelieve world on hoard an abandoned cruiser off the Breton Coast.
The atmosphere of the empty ship is wonderfully evoked: " When I had climbed on to the ship's bridge I was filled with an almost intoxicating delight. At last I was on a real ship, which was rocking gently beneath my feet ! Whilst other children were playing with little toy boats on the fountains of city squares or on village ponds. here was 1 on a ship built by men, with gangways, several decks. and portholes. I was utterly and completely happy."
Entranced, in a world of dreams. the children sail imaginary seas, setting their course by imaginary stars. They voyage to distant lands, seek treasure. fight pirates. Henri is their poet.
A thousand sailors Came to defeat us But we fought so well That they couldn't beat us A thousand sailors now are lying
In our deep dark dungeons,
sad and crying ...
Then the day came " God only knows which day it was " when a tempest sent the beautiful ship to her death. " And if I am always sorrowful. year after year. when the big autumn gales begin to blow, it is because then 1 always see again the funeral procession under the rain taking Pierrot to the cemetery, his beret with the red pompom on his grave, and the horizons that we discovered together suddenly disappeared.
A sorrow and a sense of guilt darken the children's lives.
"Can L go home now?" Catherine whispers to the old sailor who is taking her to a circus. " Why do you want to go home ? " he asks her. " When people put on a show they like to have an audience, you know." Gently and tenderly he shows her that not even sorrow must bring life to a standstill. The hook is full of such delicate wisdom.
THEY FELL FROM GOD'S HAND, by Hans Werner Richter (HarraP. 150
" THEY Fell from God's Hand" is also a translation, this time from the German and of a different calibre. It traces the lives of nine ' displaced ' persons. men and women, whether in concentration camps or being harried hither and thither across Europe until they converge on the U.S. Zone of Germany. It is a heart-rending, compassionate and terrible novel. As happens only too often, the jacket gives a false impression of the book.
THE SECRET RIVER, by C. H. Kitcbin (Seeker and Warburg, 16s.).
IF you leave me. Harriet. I don't want to live. I should kill myself." These words are the key to a skilful study of the domination exercised by a neurotic mother upon an only daughter.
THE POISON CUPBOARD. by J. F. Burke (Seeker and Warburg, 13s. 6d.).
LAURA. a woman doctor successful in her practice but frustrated in her private life, is obsessed with hatred for the wife of her twin brother. An exciting, lurid, but not always convincing book.
THE JESTER OF GOD, by Ivan Rue (Hutchinson, 12s. 6d.).
A MYSTERIOUS stranger appearing in an Italian village, dissuades a girl who is on the Point of entering a convent. He tells her of the lives of four nuns with whom she is travelling: In each account a different aspect of love is shown. A dark book, full of hints and implications.
SUMMER AT SAN MARCO, by Eric and Barbara VVItelton (Hutchinson, 16s.).
"SUMMER at San Marco" is a
".." chatty travel hook, partly about real places, partly and mainly about Italian village life on the imaginary peninsula of St. Marco. The mixture of fantasy and reality is sometimes tiresome; but the book is well produced.